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Jerry Rinehart gets ready to shoot a basketball from a wheelchair alongside Goldy Gopher.

Jerry Rinehart, vice provost of student affairs, tries his hand at shooting free throws during halftime of the wheelchair basketball exhibition at the Rec Center.

Adapted Sports Club rolls out membership drive

By Bob San

Jan. 29, 2007

About 200 people attended a wheelchair basketball exhibition game at the U's Rec Center featuring the Courage Center's athletes on Friday, Jan. 26. The event was staged to raise awareness and recruit members for the University's newly formed Adapted Sports Club, and also to generate support for an official University of Minnesota wheelchair basketball team.

The Junior and Adult Rolling Timberwolves and the Rolling Gophers provided the game entertainment for the large crowd that ringed the Rec Center court. At halftime, spectators and U dignitaries tried their hand at shooting free throws.

The Adapted Sports Club was formed last spring, becoming the first recreation club at the University designed for students, faculty and staff with disabilities.

"It's really important that we get people with or without disabilities involved," Garaghty said. "The significance of the club is that it brings people together with sports as a common interest. It's a really good way of building relationships as well as showing the extent of activities that people with disabilities can do."

The U has more than 1,200 registered students with disabilities, but most do not participate in sports or have their recreational needs met at other places in the community because they are not aware of the opportunities on campus. The Adapted Sports Club is meant to act as a liaison between students and staff with disabilities and the Department of Recreational Sports, said Tony Brown, the department's associate director.

"If a student is interested in canoeing and kayaking, he can contact the club and club will contact our outdoor recreation program and we can put something together," Brown said. "If the student is interested in being physically fit we can set him up with a personal trainer or group training. It's a new concept and idea. We think if we can get people become aware of it, membership will grow."

"It's really important that we get people with or without disabilities involved," club president Rachel Garaghty said. "The significance of the club is that it brings people together with sports as a common interest. It's a really good way of building relationships as well as showing the extent of activities that people with disabilities can do."

"Spectators of the event were able to witness how competitive and entertaining the sport of wheelchair basketball can be," added Sara Hege, specialist and staff advisor with Disability Services. "Hopefully, the momentum and excitement generated at this event will carry into future sport and recreational opportunities for students, staff and faculty with disabilities at the University of Minnesota."

The Adapted Sports Club is scheduling another wheelchair basketball exhibition during the halftime of the Gopher women's basketball game Sunday, Feb. 11.

For more information about the Adapted Sports Club, contact 612-624-2602.